Stop Looking For Angels -- How George Clooney, Marcus Aurelius, and a Navy Seal Can Set You Up For Success

A seedy, unfamiliar room. Clinically white. Painfully fluorescent. Two uninterested bodies operate a soulless camera, pointed straight at your face. "Whenever you're ready," they say. And as they hit record, your mind goes completely blank. 

Welcome to hell! Or, as we call it in Hollywood, the casting room. More than a few dreams have been crushed in the 25 square foot crucible of the acting skill, networking ability, and sociopathy. But occasionally, careers are MADE in those rooms -- a simple thumbs up can turn a nobody into a 'somebody' -- and a member of Hollywood royalty was willing to share his one secret on how he managed to beat the game. And the good news? It applies to everyone, everywhere, all the time. 

EVEN if you aren't the Sexiest Man Alive

EVEN if you aren't the Sexiest Man Alive

George's Rule: Treat every audition as an opportunity to help THEM. 

You're going into a room with a nervous casting director, an overstressed producer, and an exec with his boss breathing down his neck. They're dying to get their show picked up, put on the air, and become the next BIG BANG THEORY (and can we please kill the current one?). So when you walk in the door, lines memorized, hair styled, outfit matched to your character, this isn't simply YOUR chance to get the role. It's THEIR lucky day -- an opportunity to cast the perfect actor for the part. 

It sounds simple, but that's why it's so genius. Everyone spends so much time in their own heads, worried about themselves first and foremost, that they rarely stop and consider the other side. Once Clooney realized that auditions were a chance for HIM to be the perfect fit -- and not a chance to prove that HE is worthy -- his career completely turned around. But how? Is this some kind of mental magic bullet? Or, with his anxieties quieted, and seeing HIMSELF as the hero of the day, did he simply radiate the energy of being 'the one'? 

Clearly, all of the above. 

Clearly, all of the above. 

The good news is that you don't have to be Clooney-handsome, Damon-charming, or Affleck-chinned to put this system to use (and to learn about why systems are the ambrosia of productivity, click HERE). Anyone, anywhere, at any time can put this idea to use. In the office, at home, in the bedroom (*at your own risk*). You simply have to learn to re-frame the challenges in your life in your head. In his fantastic book THE OBSTACLE IS THE WAY, author Ryan Holiday goes deep onto the kind of tricks you can use to get yo' head right when the going gets tough. Holiday's book opens with the Clooney Parable, showing from the jump the potency of his methods. Obstacles aren't roadblocks. They're opportunity

For a more accessible metaphor, Holiday uses the example of Nick Saban, the man behind Alabama's college football dynasty. His ethos isn't one of playoffs and championships, but of complete in-the-moment awareness. Every drill is an opportunity to build your skills. Being down 2 touchdowns in the 4th quarter is an opportunity to test your cool under fire. Missing the playoffs is an opportunity to re-evaluate your skills, practices, and systems, in order to make an even more unstoppable team the next year. Holiday, pulling directly from the Stoics, points out that these sorts of challenges -- these roadblocks -- are the essence of life. There is no greater satisfaction than meeting an obstacle, tackling it, and beating it. A life without struggle is a life half-lived. 

If neither of this tricks work for you, perhaps Navy Seal Jocko Willink can help. Whenever he's given news -- especially bad news -- he reacts in one way:

Jocko Willink, just prior to killing you

Jocko Willink, just prior to killing you


By starting with 'good,' whatever thought flows next is bound to be a justification of why. To mix our examples here: Didn't get the callback? Good. Now you can stop worrying and focus on the next gig. Didn't make starting linebacker? Good. Now you've got fuel to make yourself the best motherfucker on the team. Didn't get any traction of your short film? Good. Now you've got the skills and experience to make an even fucking better one. 


Good advice bears repeating, and if anything can touch Ancient Greece, Bowl Championships, and Oceans 11, there's bound to be some truth there. Take advantage of the wisdom of the greats to reframe your problems into your possibilities. The ball is forever in your court. Stop looking for angels and start looking for angles. And if the going gets tough?

Good. The Obstacle is the Way.